30 June 2012

Royal Mail

It's not every day I get mail from the Queen!  Here is my Diamond Jubilee tea caddy, all the way from London.  I realized I probably would not be making it to England this year, so I ordered this to add to my tea tin collection.  It's quite lovely and came packed tightly with plenty of stuffing for protection.  The tea is yummy too!  Looking forward to enjoying this while I plan a trip for next spring - I hope!

26 June 2012

Finding my path in spirituality class

I have been in academia a long time, some may say too long.  While I have really enjoyed most of my coursework through the years, once in a while I hit a class that isn't all I hoped it would be.  I think this time around I might have set my hopes too high for the class to deliver.  The group was small, which should have been a benefit to the discussions about spirituality.  Unfortunately, it was also a younger group of students, with many still in the "I must impress the teacher with my ability to recall the reading" view, not ones ready to tackle a potentially challenging topic of spirituality.

Another aspect of the class that was well-meaning, but distracting was all of the "hands on" opportunities the professor kept coming up with.  Here you see folks in a labyrinth.  This can be a truly relaxing approach to zoning out of the distractions of everyday life and becoming present.  However, with 14 people in the small spaces, moving at different paces is just distracting.  I'm sure I will go back to this space (it's not far from my office) when I am alone or perhaps with one other person and walk it again.  For those interested in the history of the labyrinth, find the wiki link here.

Other adventures included yoga (see the photo below), an Asian tea ceremony, an astronomy presentation and a drum circle. With a little more formal discussion prior to or incorporated with any of these events, would have made the class really good.

On the up side, and in joining with the Soli Deo Gloria Party, I would like to share what I did get from this class.  Some of the assignments were reflection papers related to the readings of different spiritual writers in religion and education.  I have reached an age where I have no problem sharing things about my life, challenges, and feelings, even with assignments such as these.  As the weeks progressed I wrote about the sudden death of my friend last fall, the dissatisfaction I have with the direction my job is going, the mental exhaustion of trying to keep too many balls in the air, and my desire to return to a simpler life.  It probably took me 6 of the 10 weeks to realize that my heart was speaking to ME through these assignments. 

So, I stopped wondering "what if" I could change things and started changing them.  I decided that there was never going to be a better time to do the work involved with re-setting my life.  I learned that while I value the work I do now and find it very important to the community I serve, I am no longer the person that needs to do it.  I need to go back to helping students succeed in becoming the positive citizens we hope will move forward.  I missed seeing that moment when the light goes on in their head. (And let me tell you, some days it takes a long time before that happens!)

Some of the practical parts of this change include actively seeking out a new position, whereever that may take me.  Which then leads to selling my current place, which of course meant I finally had to tackle the storage of years worth of memories and stuff.  I have done a good deal of it so far and will continue as I job search.  I f I haven't found anything by spring, I will attempt to sell the place anyway.  It's a gorgeous place, but I can live in half the space comfortably and could use the difference in cost of living to do more traveling - which is really where my heart lies.

It's clear to me now, that the purpose of me choosing this class was to open my own heart and mind to what needed to change and to find the strength to do the work.  It will continue to be a challenging path, but one I truly believe I should be taking at this point.  Thanks for sharing in my journey.

24 June 2012

A big day

My Grandmother had her 95th birthday in May.  We all headed to where she lives to have some food, fun, laughs, stories, and cake!  I saw friends and cousins I hadn't seen in a while.  We talked with Grandma's "baby" brother, who is 91 and caught up with everyone.  This is the second grandparent to reach this age and overall my family members have some serious longevity. 

Here's Gram, showing off some of her candy haul.  'Cuz really, when you reach this age, you get to eat pretty much whatever you want.  She does try to stretch them and shares with friends.  She had both chocolates and hard candies, you know, variety is the spice of life!

One of my favorite snapshots from the day, my niece and BIL taking some photos of their own.  She is totally into using a camera and at other events has been going around the room and snapping away.  Occasionally we have some floor and ceiling shots, but really, she's pretty good!

21 June 2012

Hello again sweet friends!

When I paused to collect my thoughts for a few weeks and get some things done, I had no idea I would be gone so long.  I have many wonderful stories, events, and photos to share, but I will spread them out and not overwhelm you!

I realized once I started getting down to it, that many things in "my house" needed to be ordered.  Not just the physical items, although we'll get to those in a second, but also the stress and emotional items I'd been stuffing in boxes and piling on shelves around the place (and in my head).  So, I got down to work, sorted, trashed, sold, gave away, dealt with, and moved forward.  It was exhausting - and I haven't felt this good in years!

My neighborhood had a multi-house garage sale.  I took this as a sign it was time to finally attack the storage spaces I had been ignoring for years. You see, I had available space so I filled it and didn't really have to look at it, so it was easy to walk away from the mess.  I realized as I drug things out I hadn't seen in years, that some of it was the emotional baggage attached to the items.  They symbolized a past life that I needed to let go.  They brought good and sad memories, but mostly lightened my load when I could see floors and walls of closets again.  I donated bags of clothing, books, took 4 file size boxes of paperwork to the shred-it day (where you drive up and they take the boxes out of your car, hand it to the nice person working the monster shredder truck, and *poof*, all your important identifying info is gone), and hauled the rest to the garage for the sale.  Here's one shot as proof:

I had taken some great advice from some of the professional garage-salers I know and got ready for an early Friday crowd.  As I was setting out the signs in the morning, a couple folks circling the neighborhood followed me home and waited for me to open the door.  Then we were off running!  It rained off and on all morning, but I was still very pleased with the turnout and items taken to be enjoyed elsewhere.  Saturday it was sunny and breezy, just a really gorgeous day, which is why I didn't notice my pasty white skin turning into this, until it was too late:

After my success of both cleaning and purging my old baggage, I decided to buy some new luggage and renew my passport for future travels! 

I'll be back later in the weekend to bring you more from my time away - it involves cake, adorable people, traditions and tributes, ladies night out, stories from the past, and the wrap up of my spirituality class. Until then...